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Archive for Saturday, March 20, 2004

Parents must screen outside influences

March 20, 2004

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You have talked about how Barbie dolls place undue emphasis on clothing, possession and appearance. Barbie isn't the only example of this adolescent influence in our culture, is it?

No, our children are saturated with commercial stuff that has the same impact. More and more, we see adolescent clothes, attitudes and values being marketed to younger and younger children. And rock and rap music, with adolescent and adult themes, is finding eager listeners among the very young.

I believe it is desirable to postpone the adolescent experience until it is summoned by your child's happy hormones. Therefore, I strongly recommend that parents screen the influences to which their children are exposed, keeping activities appropriate for each age. While we can't isolate our kids from the world as it is, we don't have to turn our babies into teenyboppers.

Talk about a father's impact on his daughter and what he should hope to accomplish through that relationship.

Fathers have an incalculable impact on their daughters. Most psychologists believe, and I am one of them, that all future romantic relationships that occur in a girl's life will be influenced positively or negatively by the way she perceives and interacts with her dad.

If he rejects and ignores her, she will spend her life trying to replace him in her heart. If he is warm and nurturing, she will look for a lover to equal him. If he thinks she is beautiful, worthy and feminine, she will be inclined to see herself that way. But if he thinks she is unattractive and uninteresting, she is likely to carry self-esteem problems into her adult years.

I have also observed that a woman's respect for her husband is significantly influenced by the way she perceived her father. If he was overbearing, uncaring or capricious during her developmental years, she may disrespect her husband and question his judgment. But if Dad blended love and leadership in a way that conveyed strength, she will be more likely to live harmoniously with her husband.

These tendencies and trends are not absolute, of course. Individual differences can always produce exceptions and contradictions. But this statement will be hard to refute: A good father will leave his imprint on his daughter for the rest of her life.

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